The former Pretty Polly plant in Killarney closed in 2005 and has been unused since then. It has become an eyesore in a town that has won the top award in the national Tidy Towns competition, and which makes huge efforts to present its best face to 1m tourists from all over the world annually. Scores of local Tidy Town volunteers regularly clean-up the town.
The sprawling site, where 1,000 people manufactured ladies’ tights, was purchased for €2m shortly after it closed by the since-abolished Killarney Town Council.
It was hoped the building would be used by incoming or start-up enterprises or by businesses wishing to move from the town centre, but that has not happened and the building is falling into dereliction.
It sits on the eastern edge of Killarney, close to a major traffic intersection on the N22 Cork-to-Tralee road, just off the bypass, and is regarded as a valuable industrial site.
Kerry County Enterprise Board has been asked to get involved. The issue was highlighted at a meeting of Killarney Municipal Authority, which heard calls for a redoubling of efforts to use the site for job-creation. It arose during a presentation on the work of Kerry County Enterprise Board by its manager, Tomas Hayes.
The factory was constructed in the 1960s and Mr Hayes said the lifespan of any industrial building was 35 to 40 years.
“I feel very strongly that something needs to be done there to redevelop the building, because it’s not suitable,” he said.
South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson called for units serving the whole community to be provided there.
“In its present state, it’s monumentally ugly and diminishes the approach to Killarney,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Niall Kelleher said the site would be “better off growing grass” and said its current condition was an insult to a place that had employed so many people. But it was still a site that offered great opportunities, he said.
Municipal authority manager Angela McAllen said the site had been identified as a key opportunity. A countywide strategy was being developed to make the most of existing resources, or to work with partnership agencies.
Meanwhile, a plan has been launched in nearby Killorglin to encourage new business start-ups, with help from exiles.
A new grouping, Killorglin Chamber Alliance, is to host a networking event in the town to coincide with the three-day Puck Fair, which takes place next weekend. Speakers will include minister for the diaspora Jimmy Deenihan, Tweak.com chief executive Jerry Kennelly, former tánaiste Dick Spring, who is a director of the Killorglin-based financial services company Fexco, and MEP Sean Kelly. The group is made up of representatives of business, the arts, community and sporting organisations in the town.